The Giant Southern Reptile
Giganotosaurus, whose name means “Giant Southern Reptile,” was not discovered until 1994 in southern Argentina by Ruben Carolini, an auto mechanic who hunts dinosaur bones in his free time. Giganotosaurus lived in the mid-Cretaceous period, around 95-100 million years ago, during the end of the Mesozoic Era, also known as the “Age of Reptiles.” It was a theropod, which means “beast-footed.” Here are four interesting facts about Giganotosaurus.
Giganotosaurus Fact #1: Until Giganotosaurus was discovered, Tyrannosaurus rex was thought to be the longest meat-eating dinosaur. (As of now, Spinosaurus is considered to be the largest carnivorous dinosaur.) However, Giganotosaurus had a skull six-feet long, compared to T-rex’s five-foot long skull, a height of 12 feet, compared to T-rex’s ten feet, a length of 43 feet, compared to T-rex’s 40 feet, and it weighed about eight tons, compared to T-rex’s five tons. Giganotosaurus also had a smaller brain than T-rex, and it had long, knife-like teeth good for slicing compared to T-rex’s conical teeth that were good for crushing.
Giganotosaurus Fact #2: Giganotosaurus lived 30 million years before Tyrannosaurus rex, and it had a brain the size of a banana. It had a long, narrow head but due to holes in its skull, its head was light. However, Giganotosaurus still had a strong enough head to bite prey.
Giganotosaurus Fact #3: Giganotosaurus walked on two legs, although it is uncertain whether it was a fast or slow dinosaur. Although Giganotosaurus had a slim pointed tail that may have helped it balance and make quick turns, scientists have theorized that Giganotosaurus, along with other large theropods with short arms, ran slowly because if they fell, their short arms could not help break their fall and they would be severely injured. However, research suggests that some of these theropods, such as Allosaurus, were able to crack and heal their ribs multiple times and still survive. On the other hand, Allosaurus was smaller than Giganotosaurus and T-rex so it is unclear whether Giganotosaurus and T-rex would have been able to heal from falling injuries; therefore, they may or may not have been fast dinosaurs.
Giganotosaurus Fact #4: Giganotosaurus used it’s knife-like teeth to cut slices into sauropods-its prey. Giganotosaurus would keep cutting into the sauropod until the sauropod bled to death. Then Giganotosaurus would eat its prey. Giganotosaurus had 76 teeth, and each tooth was eight inches long.
Giganotosaurus: The Giant Southern Lizard, by Rob Stone
Learn more about Giganotosaurus in episode 23 of our podcast.